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Blinkers a.m. only for Sinister G
OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Since he has already shown an abundance of speed, one wouldn't think blinkers would do Sinister G much good. For the last month, however, Sinister G has trained in blinkers though he doesn't wear them when he races.
The blinkers on, blinkers off method has worked beautifully thus far as Sinister G enters Saturday's Grade 1, $750,000 Wood Memorial off an upset win in the Grade 2 Lane's End Stakes at Turfway Park.
Tuesday morning, Sinister G completed his Wood preparations by working four furlongs in 48.03 seconds over the Belmont Park training track. Regular exercise rider Luis Chiari was aboard for the move, the sixth fastest of 89 at the distance. It was Chiari who suggested to trainer John Toscano that he put blinkers on Sinister G. Toscano did not want to do it in the afternoon, but opted to try it in the morning.
Toscano explained that Sinister G can be too aggressive in the morning and when he sees other horses he tends to run after them.
"He seems to relax more in the blinkers,'' Toscano said.
Toscano said he doesn't mind if Sinister G runs after horses in the afternoon.
"We want him to see the competition in the Wood,'' Toscano said. "Before his last two starts he's trained in blinkers, and he's run good like that. We'll leave him alone.''
Toscano said his main concerns entering the Wood are the presence of the speedy Value Plus and a fear of drawing an outside post. Sinister G won the Lane's End from post 11, but at Aqueduct the run into the first turn is only a sixteenth of a mile.
Two other Wood probables put in workouts Tuesday morning. Bride's Best Boy, a sharp entry-level allowance winner at Gulfstream Park, went four furlongs in 48.23 seconds over the training track under exercise rider Robin Smullen. At Aqueduct, Hornshope, a nine-furlong allowance winner here on March 12, went four furlongs in 48.89 seconds.
Bride's Best Boy does not yet have a rider. Smullen, the assistant to trainer Barclay Tagg, said if they can't find a suitable rider, they may opt to run Bride's Best Boy in the seven-furlong Bay Shore Stakes on the Wood undercard. Currently, Jerry Bailey is without a mount in the Bay Shore.
Meanwhile, trainer Michael Daggett said Mike Luzzi would ride Hornshope in the Wood. Luzzi was aboard for Hornshope's maiden win on Jan. 17.
Also, Ramon Dominguez will be back aboard Tapit for the Wood, racing manager David Fiske said. Dominguez rode Tapit to victory in last November's Grade 3 Laurel Futurity.
Zito goes with Royal Assault in Wood
As expected, trainer Nick Zito has elected to keep The Cliff's Edge in Kentucky for the Blue Grass and will send Royal Assault to New York for the Wood. Zito said Robert La Penta, owner of The Cliff's Edge, thought the Blue Grass might be easier than the Wood.
"I think both races are equally tough, but he thinks the Wood would be tougher,'' Zito said. "Also, we shipped him to Tampa and he didn't do too well, so we felt it best to keep him here.''
Royal Assault, a son of Kris S. out of the $1.2 million-dollar earning mare Fit for a Queen, is 1 for 3 and is coming off a second-place finish behind Suave in an entry-level allowance race on March 13 at Gulfstream. It is noteworthy that the time for that race was two ticks faster than the Florida Derby, run the same day.
"I want to see where we are with those horses,'' said Zito, who views Royal Assault as a potential Belmont Stakes horse. "I think you'll be impressed with how he runs.''
Javier Castellano will ride Royal Assault.
Don Six fires Carter bullet
Over a freshly harrowed track with a strong wind aiding him down the backstretch, Don Six drilled four furlongs in 45.59 seconds over Belmont's training track Tuesday morning in preparation for Saturday's Grade 1 Carter Handicap. Ricky Legall was aboard for the move, the fastest of 89 at the distance.
In addition to the wind, Don Six's fast work could also be attributed to the sight of another horse working a sixteenth of a mile ahead of him.
"He loves to chase horses,'' said Stacey Parker, assistant to trainer Frank Generazio. "We weren't asking him.''
At Aqueduct, Carter contender Secret Run worked three furlongs in a bullet 35.08 seconds.
Storm Flag Flying gets another chance
Trainer Shug McGaughey said Storm Flag Flying, the champion 2-year-old filly in 2002, would remain in training despite a disappointing performance in the Grade 2 Distaff Breeders' Cup Handicap on March 27.
McGaughey had mentioned the Grade 3 Bed o' Roses on April 17 as a target race for Storm Flag Flying if she ran well in the Distaff, but he has now decided against running the filly again at Aqueduct, where she is 0 for 2. Instead, McGaughey will point Storm Flag Flying to the Grade 2 Shuvee Handicap at Belmont on May 15.
Storm Flag Flying finished third to Randaroo, beaten 5 3/4 lengths, in the Distaff. Since winning the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at Arlington Park in October 2002, Storm Flag Flying has won once - an allowance race - in four starts. She only ran twice last year because of a hind leg injury.
McGaughey said he and Storm Flag Flying's owner, Ogden Mills Phipps, considered retiring the filly and breeding her after she failed to run to their expectations in the Distaff.
"Our intentions were to retire her, but she has been going around the main track [at Belmont Park] like a champion the last two days," McGaughey said. "Unless she shows us something different, we're going to rock on."
Society Selection joins Comely lineup
Friday's $100,000 Comely Stakes received a boost Tuesday when trainer Allen Jerkens said Society Selection, who won last year's Grade 1 Frizette at Belmont, would start.
Society Selection returned to Belmont from Florida on Monday. Jerkens said providing the 3-year-old filly trained well on Wednesday, she would be entered in the Grade 3 Comely.
In two starts this year at Gulfstream Park, Society Selection finished third in the Grade 2 Davona Dale and second in the Grade 2 Bonnie Miss. She was a favorite in both of those races.
For the first time Jorge Chavez will ride Society Selection.
The one-mile Comely is also expected to attract A Lulu Ofa Menifee, Bending Strings, Daydreaming, Fond, Irish Melody, Please Take Me Out, and Rare Gift.
Tactical Plus tops allowance feature
Jerkens has one of the main contenders for Thursday's $47,000 allowance feature. The Jerkens-trained Tactical Plus is among seven older fillies and mares entered in the optional claimer at seven furlongs. Aspen Flower, Starship Daydream, and Quppy were the only horses entered for the $65,000 claiming price.
Jerkens, who traditionally does well at the spring meet, ran Tactical Plus here on March 22 in a second-level allowance race. Tactical Plus, the favorite, won the seven-furlong race by three-quarters of a length after losing the lead in the stretch. Ray Ganpath, Tactical Plus's regular rider, rides from post 3.
If Our Royal Dancer can duplicate her inner-track form, she figures in the mix under the meet's leading rider, Pablo Fragoso. Trained by Bruce Levine, who is enjoying an excellent meet, Our Royal Dancer won her last two starts in six-furlong allowances on the inner oval.
Lavender Lass, the runner-up in the Carson Hollow Stakes in February, finished a well-beaten second in her last start at the mile while giving weight. She drops five pounds here and should appreciate the turn back in distance.
- additional reporting by Karen M. Johnson